Town likely to draw loan search blank

DESPITE spending endless hours on the phone over the last few days, Town boss Jim Magilton looks likely to draw a blank in his search to bolster his promotion-chasing squad.

Elvin King

DESPITE spending endless hours on the phone over the last few days, Town boss Jim Magilton looks likely to draw a blank in his search to bolster his promotion-chasing squad.

The deadline for loan signings runs out at midnight, and if there is going to be an 11th hour signing it could well be Fulham's Northern Ireland international striker David Healy, who Magilton watched in action in Belfast last night.

The Blues boss has also had Newcastle front man Shola Ameobi, Healy's Fulham colleague Diomansy Kamara and Manchester City's Emile Mpenza in his sights - in fact any Premier League striker not currently in the first team.

Healy, who scored at both ends last night against Georgia, was back in the Fulham line-up last weekend coming on as a substitute.

But with fellow striker Jari Litmanen now back in action after injury Fulham manager Roy Hodgson might be persuaded later today that he does not need Healy's help to fight his battle to avoid relegation from the top flight.

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The number of players coming out of the Premier League to go on loan to Championship clubs is few and far between with Town's signature of Manchester United's Danny Simpson one of the few deals to have been completed.

Healy, who picked up an award from UEFA president Michel Platini to mark his record 13 goals in Euro 2008 qualifying last, celebrated by hitting his 34th goal for the Irish.

He has been frustrated at Craven Cottage in recent weeks and said: “Nobody is ever happy about not playing first team football. Jim Magilton is a terrific manager and doing a terrific job there.

“Ipswich are a terrific club and I am sure he will continue to do a terrific job there.”

Healy would not be drawn further and Magilton confirmed his interest in the 28-year-old when he said today: “David is still very much part of Fulham's plans but if that was to change I would snap their hands off for him.

“They are in a precarious position trying to stay in the Premier League and they have got to get themselves out of that position. If I was Mr Hodgson I would not be parting with one of my prized assets.”

Something may happen later today - Magilton will keep pressing right up to midnight - with Magilton confirming his liking for Fulham central defender Dejan Stefanovic who he played with at Sheffield Wednesday, while Reading's out-of-favour defenders Ibrahim Sonko and Michael Duberry are others to have been considered.

n Town midfielder Velice Sumulikoski won his 50th cap and played 90 minutes for Macedonia in their 2-2 draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in a friendly in Zenica last night. He also picked up a caution.

Defender Chris Casement won his ninth Northern Ireland Under-21 cap as they lost 3-1 away to Romania.

n IPSWICH Town will entertain Manchester United Under-15's at Portman Road on Friday, April 25.